The new Sky Bet Championship season is drawing closer and for most fans there is a buzz of excitement, but not in West Lancashire.
Blackpool are heading into this season with new manager José Riga given the reins and to take the club forward following Paul Ince’s sacking in January.
The Tangerines finished the 2013-14 season in 20th place, after having a fairly good start to the season under Ince and topping the league for a few weeks.
Barry Ferguson took charge as Player and Caretaker Manager as things started to look worrying for the Seasiders, who suffered a run of 17 league games without a win. The Scot picked up a few vital wins towards the end of the season which saw the Seasiders avoid the dreaded drop to SkyBet League One.
Ferguson has now left the club after his contract expired last month, along with several other key players such as Craig Cathcart, Tom Ince, Matt Gilks, Angel Martinez and Kirk Broadfoot, who have all moved on from Bloomfield Road.
Tom Ince, a key player for Blackpool has left after rejecting a new contract to sign for Premier League side Hull City. Cathcart has joined Watford, Broadfoot signed for Rotherham and Gilks was snapped up by Burnley.
This leaves just eight players in the first team squad and there is mounting pressure on chairman Karl Oyston and manager Riga as players need to be brought in swiftly.
Looking back at Blackpool’s previous seasons, they have had no major worries in the Championship, with having a good quality side which was able to battle for promotion under the control of the charismatic Ian Holloway, who now manages Millwall.
But now it is a different story; the club are having to call up youth players to fill gaps in the first team and another battle to beat the drop looks very likely to be on the cards for the Championship side.
Oyston has already stated that progress is being made for the new season, with Estonian striker Sergei Zenjov signing a one-year-deal at Bloomfield Road this may be only the start of an influx of signings.
Strikers, however, should not be the top of the Seasiders’ transfer shortlist – they currently have no professional goalkeeper in the first team, three defenders and one midfielder. Oyston and Riga really do need to look at other options in the market.
If a limited budget is the barrier which is preventing Riga from signing players, loans and free agents is something that needs to be looked into as playing in the Championship with a core of youth players will not do.
Tangerines fans are appealing for Oyston’s resignation and Bloomfield Road will be a very unhappy place for them and him until he steps down.